Kansas City Chiefs offensive line is main concern


Almost anybody who watched the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014 would agree the offensive line was a mess. Outside of center Rodney Hudson, the group was a disaster.

Eric Fisher was in his first year at left tackle, Mike McGlynn was likely in his last year at left guard, Zach Fulton was a sixth-round rookie at right guard and Ryan Harris was a journeyman at right tackle. It all resulted in a line that could not run or pass block, ultimately causing Alex Smith a ruptured spleen in Week 16.

Now, it appears this group could be a major cause for concern again.

On Saturday night, the offensive line looked solid as a whole. The team only allowed one sack, and that came in the fourth quarter when men who won’t be making the roster were on the field. Smith didn’t face a ton of pressure in his three series, although when Knile Davis failed to pick up a blitz through the middle, it led to Smith’s lone interception.

So why the worry? Fulton has been replaced by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, and both starting tackles are on the shelf. I’m not worried in the least about Jeff Allen and Fisher making it back for the start of the regular season. The problem is in the interim, when Jarrod Pughsley and Donald Stephenson are going to start. The chances of Smith getting belted in the preseason just went up significantly.

In addition, I don’t want Duvernay-Tardif anywhere near the first team. He has never played a meaningful snap in the NFL, and if he’s terrible, we have another McGlynn situation. Fulton is no Will Shields, but he is also not an utter turnstile.

I’d prefer to see Fulton, and if he really stinks that badly in the eyes of Andy Reid, where is Paul Fanaika? General manager John Dorsey signed Fanaika to a three-year deal. If the former Arizona Cardinals guard can’t beat out Duvernay-Tardif, that was a brutal signing.

Kansas City still has the better part of four weeks until the games begin to matter. In that time, it needs to find the right combination. I’m hoping that Stephenson really steps his game up, and when Fisher comes back, Stephenson slides over to the right side and Allen goes back to being a right guard. Allen doesn’t have the feet to handle speed-rushers on the outside, a major problem for anybody with air on one side of them. Call me crazy, but a line of Fisher-Grubbs-Morse-Allen-Stephenson seems like the best-case scenario to me.

The Chiefs can’t afford to be playing musical chairs up front. In Week 1, they play the Houston Texans who bring Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney, Brian Cushing and some guy named J.J. Watt to the party. In Week 2, the Denver Broncos showcase DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. The following week, the Green Bay Packers have Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews coming off the edges.

The offensive line needs to be settled soon, and chosen correctly. Otherwise, an extremely promising season could be in peril.